At its meeting next Wednesday, June 5, the Homer Advisory Planning Commission will again consider a controversial 20,000-square-foot medical center to be built on Danview Avenue just north of the Homer Medical Clinic. It will discuss several issues following an appeal of a conditional use permit granted for the building.
Last fall, the commission in a 6-0 vote approved a conditional use permit for landowner Dr. Paul Raymond to build a two-story building to house the Kachemak Bay Medical clinic on a 1.37-acre lot in what’s becoming a de-facto medical district. Zoned “Residential Office,” the Bartlett Street area north of Pioneer Avenue includes single-lot homes, senior housing, houses turned into offices, apartment complexes, South Peninsula Hospital, Christian Community Church and the Pratt Museum.
Local resident Robin “Rob” Lund appealed the permit. After a hearing, Administrative Law Judge Christopher Kennedy denied most of the points of Lund’s appeal and upheld the Planning Commission decision. In a written decision dated May 3, Kennedy did note some confusion regarding what the commission intended Raymond do in response to a question on his application, “Are/will public services adequate to serve the proposed needs and structures?”
Raymond responded “yes,” and the Planning Commission found that public services, including road access, are adequate.
“Immediately afterward it made another, inconsistent finding, recommending ‘that the applicant work with the City of Homer to share costs of improving roads so that access is adequate,’” Kennedy wrote. “If someone needs to do something ‘so that access is adequate,’ access must not be adequate at this time.”
City Planner Rick Abboud noted in his brief that “Citiview(sic) and Danview Streets are undeveloped,” Kennedy added. He wrote that on the existing record it cannot be determined what are the deficiencies in access and what needs to be done to make access adequate. Kennedy ordered the Planning Commission to gather more facts to address road access, create a record on the issue of road access, make new findings on regarding if the conditional use permit meets that criterion based on the new record, and impose any new conditions related to access it feels are warranted.
Kennedy also noted a point Lund made in his oral argument but not in his written appeal: that the Planning Commission is in effect engaging in rezoning by conditional use permit.
“They’re basically doing the rezoning job by sneaking it in the back door,” Lund said in a phone interview last Friday.
Kennedy acknowledged Lund’s point, calling it “potentially a serious concern.” However, because Lund did not raise that issue as a formal point on appeal, other parties were not on notice that it could be argued and thus Kennedy could not consider it in his decision.
The Homer Comprehensive Plan does recommend that the city consider creating a medical zoning district, but that is a project the Planning Commission has not yet considered.
The commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Homer City Hall in the Cowles Council Chambers.
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.